I suspect that many of us carry a nagging regret we wish we could shed or fix. In a shame averse culture, we just want to say, "I didn't mean anything by it," and hear someone say "that's ok." Then we'll feel better. But too often its not ok. Not the inner feeling and not the outer consequences.
When I taught "Lying" to teenagers as a practical ethics course ("should I" not "how to"), my students tended to be either quick to forgive or gruelingly critical. But the method we used, articulated by Sisela Bok in her book, "Lying," developed habits of examining the consequences of a lie and whether the lie was the best choice or whether there was a better alternative. Of course, this happens after the fact. The habit hopes to influence the next choice when it comes.
Did Thompson become a more honest person as the result of his regret? Will Ryan Lochte become a more honest person as a result of the embarrassing episode in Brazil? I hope so. Because it really matters. The lie told without regard for the shame it would bring to international hosts, and without regard for the role of U.S. ambassador that our athletes are expected to play has consequences that will play out for years. We should do more than hope, we should insist that our, OUR, swimmers man up and repair what damage they can.